Since becoming the team’s Head Coach in 2013, Brett Brown has shown a tenacious focus on defense. Coming from the Greg Popovich coaching tree, it’s not surprising that Coach Brown understands the importance of defense. While the team hasn’t always been a defensive juggernaut, he continues to preach defensive effort relentlessly. Last year the Sixers gave very inconsistent effort defensively. They coasted defensively what seemed like all season and ended up ranked 14th in defensive rating. Brown has been very vocal about his desire for this team to thrive defensively.
The attitude from the players seems to have changed as they appear to have a focus on dominating defensively. When the Sixers add Al Horford and Josh Richardson this offseason they became a more well rounded defensive team. Added to a lineup already featuring Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, two dominant defensive players, it’s hard to ignore the defensive potential. What’s interesting though are the comments from the other players on the roster and their commitment to defense.
Tobias Harris is known for his electric offense but at the Sixers media day, Harris expressed his passion to improve defensively. Never being known for his defense, Harris is striving to change the perception of him being a subpar defender. Focusing on his lateral quickness and defensive stamina, Harris is taking the necessary steps to elevate his game. Recently signing a 5-year, $180 million deal, fans would love to see Harris expand his game and become an impact defender.
Harris isn’t the only Sixer trying to change how they appear in the court of public opinion. Presumed backup Point Guard Trey Burke also had words but his desired improvements this year. Burke hopes to be a spark off the bench on not only offense but on defense as well. Burke spoke highly of Ex-Sixer T.J. McConnell and his ability to frustrate guards. He believes he has that same type of tenacity and plans on defending full-court much the same way McConnell does.
From top to bottom this team will improve defensively. These players are finding motivation in themselves, each other, and in their Coach. Brett Brown will push this team to be their best and we will see this team compete on a whole new level. We are about to witness one of the best defenses the NBA has seen in a long while. Joel Embiid is a candidate for defensive player of the year, it wouldn’t surprise me if Ben Simmons gets votes either. These two young stars will set the tone for this team and lead them to a playoff trip we won’t soon forget.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports